Noontime Rotary announces first honorees of 2023 Spirit of Marco Island award

From left, Al Diaz, Amanda Nelson, Pastor Mark, Kathryn Pasternak, Linda Sandlin, Samantha Arago and Michelle Hennessy.

The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island recently announced that the Bargain Basket/United Church of Marco Island and the Marco Island Yacht Club were both selected as the first two recipients of the 2023 Spirit of Marco Island Award.

The Bargain Basket/United Church of Marco Island were taken by complete surprise at a recent Sunday church service with several hundred parishioners in attendance. They were recognized for their incredible contributions and support of many Marco Island organizations that include: Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, Joy of Giving, Habitat for Humanity, Baby Basics the Police Foundation, M.I. Dementia Respite and many others.

The Bargain Basket which is managed by Samantha Arago and is supported through the volunteerism of many of the parishioners as well as community members have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support their outreach missions.

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In addition, Michelle Hennessy the chair of the mission committee and her fellow committee members through prayerful consideration and hard work, help to determine to which organizations the funds that are raised from the Bargain Basket as well as the generous donations and support of the church members will be distributed.

Pastor Mark accepted the Award on behalf of the Bargain Basked and United Church of Marco Island and proclaimed how proud he was of the generosity of the church family and noting the tremendous impact that they have made in the Community and for those in need. He noted that the Award would proudly remain on the altar where it belonged.

The Marco Island Yacht Club was also recognized with the Spirit Award with a surprise presentation that was made at their monthly Boaters Night event with a full house of members in attendance.  

From left, Tom Morrison, Vicki Bretthauer, Henry Stanley, Dave Everett, Linda Sandlin, Amanda Nelson, Jim Richards, in back George Abounader and Al Diaz.

The Marco Island Yacht Club is being honored for their community outreach through their generous support of many local organizations that includes their major sponsorship and support of the Flag for Heroes event, Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, Salvation Army, Golden Paws, Marco Patriots, For the Love of Cats and their longstanding sponsorship of the Sailing School serving over 140 students in 2022!

Linda Sandlin, Spirit Award Co-Chair and Past President of the Marco Island Rotary Club made the presentation along with a group of fellow Rotarians. Accepting the award on behalf of the Yacht Club were Chairman of the Board Dave Everitt, Bridge Commodore & Board Director Henry Stanley, Board Secretary and Community Relations Committee member Vicki Bretthauer, Board Director & Rear Commodore Tom Morrison. Sailing Fleet Captain and Community Relations Chair Dwyn Von Bereghy  was unable to attend.

Additional honorees will be announced in the next few weeks. The honorees will be formally presented with their 2023 Spirit of Marco Island Award at the 13th Annual Spirit of Marco Island Gala Awards Dinner and Silent Auction to be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at the Bistro Soleil Restaurant.

In addition, to attending the Gala, there are many sponsorship opportunities available, including the opportunity to sponsor one of the Honorees, including a VIP table at the event. For sponsorship opportunities please contact Linda Sandlin at 239-777-9200 or by email:

This gala event recognizes individuals and organizations that are civically involved in the community through their contribution of time, talent and financial support to the community.

For more information and tickets for this event you may contact Al Diaz at 438-5285 or by email at